MAC: Mines and Communities

Buyat Bay Case: Court has to decide for People Justice

Published by MAC on 2007-04-20

Buyat Bay Case: Court has to decide for People Justice

Joint Press Release

20th April 2007

Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesian Centre for Environmental Law (ICEL)

Jakarta- On Tuesday, April 24th 2007, after suspicious delay, criminal court decision on Newmont Minahasa Raya will be read. During a year session, the prosecutor has been showing a number of clear and strong evidences about the violation of environmental law and presumption of Buyat Bay pollution. Newmont’s pledoi even could not object these evidences.

The evidences of the violation of law are easy to find in Newmont’s Environmental Monitoring Plan and Environmental Management Plan (1). Newmont’s tailing wastes which contained Arsenic, Mercury, Silver, Zinc, and Manganese already more than the verified standards, like showed 121 times at least in the document, before discharged to Buyat Bay. The standards are decided on Enviromental Ministry Decision (Kepmen LH) No. 51/MENLH/10/1995 Annex C and tailing standard based on Enviromental Ministry Decision Letter / Head of Bapedal (Environmental Impact Assessement Agency) No. B-1456/Bapedal/07/2000.

During 2001 to 2004, Newmont did not have permission to dump tailing to the sea. The official document published by the company had proved that the former Environmental Minister / Head of Bapedal never gave the permission at that time.

Investigations held by Police National Headquarter and findings from Joint Team For Buyat Bay had issued the validly proved facts of Buyat Bay pollution. Newmont’s tailing has endangered the sea biodiversity such as phytoplankton and bentos(2) around the dumping area.

Evidences above already shown in the session held since August 2005. Based on the facts in the session, the prosecutor has correctly and certainly proved the pollution done by Newmont. On the contrary, Newmont answered these facts by showed the limited studies done by CSIRO, WHO, and Minamata Institute (3).

WHO and National Minamata Institute’s investigation result was only ‘temporarily pictured’ and limited to acknowledge the similarity indications with Minamata disease, which was not found. But Newmont and its supporters claimed that in this report mentioned that there wasn’t any pollution in Buyat Bay. The company even has published several advertisements in mass media for this purpose. It is shameful when they also used these advertisements as pledoi materials in front of the court.

As stated by Budi Haryanto, an epidemiologist from Community Health Faculty of University of Indonesia, “The WHO / National Minamata Institute’s investigation result only temporarily pictured and should not represent the whole environmental situation and condition in Buyat Bay. Jan Speets, WHO expert whom investigated this case, also admitted that there was health problems in Buyat Bay though he does not know the cause. Jan Speets was also surprised why Health Ministry let the Newmont’S claims.(5) The evidences are strong. People of Buyat do hope that the panel of judges stands beside them and make a just and independent decision for this case.

Media Contacts:

Torry Kuswardono, WALHI, 0811 383 270
Luluk Uliyah, JATAM, 0815 9480 246
Dyah Paramita, ICEL, 0815 84118 753

Editor Notes:

1. Environmental Management Plan Report and Environmental Monitoring Plan Report are parts of Environmental Impact Assessment which are compiled and reported by a company every 3 months. This document is obligatory and a legal document that bind the company to conduct environmental management and monitoring around its mining area.

2. Bentos is deep sea animal and phytoplankton is a sea flora. Both are in marine ecosystem chain. Government Joint Team in 2004 found that there was a consistent relationship between low diversity index of benthos and high concentrate arsenic in Buyat Bay sediment.

3. See the comparison between CSIRO, WHO, and National Minamata Institute reports and Joint Team report.

4. dr. Budi Haryanto is a member of First team who conducted the advanced studies with Environmental Ministry to seek Arsenic contents inside water wells at the Buyat Bay nearby dwellings and arsenic content in Buyat people's hair dan urine.

5. Source: Singkap Buyat : Temuan, Pengabaian dan Kolusi (Singkap Buyat: Findings, Neglect, and Collusion), by P. Raja Siregar, WALHI 2005, Jakarta.

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